Similar to a child, one should have a plan in place to ensure “Tippy” (aka your pet) is cared for in the event you suddenly pass away or become incapacitated and unable to care for your pet. Whether you have horses, birds, reptiles, and fur babies, the Pet Trust will work! You will need to appoint a Caregiver (the person who cares for Tippy) and a Trustee (the person who holds funds set aside for the care of Tippy).

1st:       Carefully Select a Caregiver to care for your pet.

  • Does the Caregiver have other pets?
  • Age of the Caregiver and age of your pet (will the pet outlive the Caregiver?)
  • The Caregiver’s living arrangement (house with yard, apartment, country)
  • Whether the Caregiver travels for long periods of time for work or recreation.

2nd:      Carefully Select a Trustee to hold funds to care for your pet.

  • Is the Trustee smart with money and can they be trusted?
  • Will they distribute funds to care for your pet if they require a certain brand of food, medication, training, vet visits, boarding, etc.?
  • Will they consider the pet’s special needs if they become ill?
  • Is the Trustee collecting Social Security Disability or other governmental aid?  If so, appointing them as Trustee may cause an unintended termination of their benefits.
  • Consider the number of pets, age, and needs, and determine a lump sum amount (average amount you spend each year, and average life expectancy)

Michigan has a specific Pet Care Trust Statute written into its trust code (MCL 700.2722), and a Pet Trust is easy to create or add to any existing estate plan. Pet Trusts can provide peace of mind that your pet will receive continued care.

This Article is written by Meredith Curless, FOX LAW, PLC, 410 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 (616) 458-3699